Herat Antique Oriental Rugs

On-Line Auctions: A Real Life Horror

On-line auctions: I do not like them. I would never get involved with one. I would not recommend anyone get involved with one.

Some time ago, I posted three articles setting out my ideas on auctions, generally, and the reasons why I particularly dislike the on-line variety.

Essentially, I am of the opinion that anyone who wants to make an informed decision before backing it up with cash, has no reason to be 'gambling' at an on-line auction.

For those who want to learn about a real life misadventure involving the on-line auction at e-bay turn to page 103 of Hali 135 (July-August 2004).

For those without access to Hali, here's what happened.

A 'wreak' of a Turkish prayer rug was offered on e-bay. Its consignor, Hali described him as a US dealer very active on e-bay, represented the piece to be a 'museum quality' rug worth at least $15,000 - $30,000 on the open market. Based on the rug's market history this statement was manifestly untrue.

In fact, those familiar with the rug knew it to be a 'dog'. Its history included twice being offered on the 'open market'. Once failing to sell against a $1,800 - $2,500 estimate. Later, selling in London at 1,100 pounds. This, in Hali's opinion, was a fair price.

Well, at e-bay, this thing sold for $12,110. According to Hali, the on-line bidding on this rug was 'spurred on' by an unknown underbidder. One is left to wonder who that might have been and whether there was any connection between the consignor and the 'unknown underbidder'.

These events illustrate several things: (1) at an auction, any auction, a determined underbidder, known or unknown, will increase what you ultimately pay for an object; (2) if you make a mistake on an auction, there is virtually no recourse once the hammer falls; (3) to make an informed decision you need to see, touch and carefully evaluate before buying; (4) do business with and establish a professional relationship with a knowledgeable and honest dealer who is motivated to serve your collecting interests. In the end, this works out best for both parties.

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